Devils Draft Series: Anton Lundell, Strong Two-Way Forward

Anton Lundell most recently played in Finland’s top league, the Liiga. (Photo by Samuli Seila/IFK Helsinki)

Profile

Anton Lundell is an 18-year-old, left-handed centerman and has an October birthday that makes him one of the older prospects in this draft. He is listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, and he has also played his whole junior career in his home country Finland. He’s also played a ton of international games in his career. In the final 2020 Draft Prospect Rankings, he ranked third among European skaters, ahead of Lucas Raymond and right behind Alexander Holtz.

The Statistics

As mentioned above, Lundell played his way through the Finnish junior system. At 14 years old, he played in the U16 Junior C League, where he tallied 15 points in 27 games. He then moved up to the U18 Junior B league as a 16-year-old and tallied 25 points in 39 games across two seasons. In the U20 Junior A-League, he racked up 35 points in 32 games across parts of two seasons. Given his age in each of these leagues, this production is solid.

Lundell made his Liiga, the top league in Finland, debut during the 2018-19 season. He tallied 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 38 games as a 17-year-old, a point-per-game average that was higher than the likes of Alexander Barkov, Kasperi Kapanen, and Mikko Rantanen when they were in the Liiga during their draft minus-one years.

This season Lundell increased his production, as he had 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and a plus-11 rating in 44 games. This point-per-game average is higher than the likes of Jesse Puljujarvi, Mikko Rantanen, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in their draft-eligible seasons. All-in-all, Lundell has had an extremely successful career in the Liiga, especially considering that it’s one of the world’s better professional leagues, and he was playing against men twice his age.

Additionally, this season Lundell was one of the Liiga’s best in driving possession — he held a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 61.9. This number not only led his team but was second-best in the entire league, trailing estranged Edmonton Oilers’ prospect, and former fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi. In the previous season, Lundell’s CF% was 54.9, which is still readily above average.

Also, Lundell has played a lot internationally. Unfortunately, he was unable to compete in this year’s World Junior Championships due to injury. However, he did play in the 2019 tournament, tallying four points in seven games. In total, Lundell has played 58 career international games, tallying 48 points.

Lundell’s Scouting Report

Strengths

Lundell’s best part of his game is his hockey-IQ and awareness. For an 18-year-old. he thinks and sees the game like he’s a seasoned veteran. This aspect of his game is where the rest of it grows.

Due to this strong intelligence, Lundell is one of the most defensively sound prospects in the draft. His ability to take away the puck from the opposing teams and often win one-on-one puck battles is amazing. He’ll easily be the forward with the best defensive ability taken in the top-15. 

His stickhandling and shot are slightly above average. Because of this and his solid 6-foot-1 frame, his puck protection/control is amazing. And this is one of the main reasons why his point production in Finland’s top league was splendid for his age.

As was mentioned above, Lundell has a keen ability to keep the possession alive, and this is evident by his outstanding Corsi numbers in a league where he played against men.

Weaknesses

Lundell’s weaknesses are mostly because of his offensive game where he does need a decent amount of work. Although the production was solid, he still needs to make it a point to improve in this area.

His playmaking ability is pretty average. And this is mainly due to a struggle with passing. Breakouts from the defensive zone are actually great, as he is reliant on solid touch passes. But when he enters the offensive zone, his passing seems to be something he struggles with. 

Another area of needed improvement is his skating. In comparison to others at the top of the draft, such as Lucas Raymond and Tim Stützle, Lundell is pretty far behind in this area. His top speed is not bad, but the issue lies in his agility. 

Projection

Projecting Lundell is interesting. He does not seem to have an extremely high ceiling in comparison to others near the top of the board.

Though there is not much risk in selecting Lundell. What you see is what you’re getting. An extremely sound-defensive centerman who will be a great penalty-killer and someone you can put on the ice when you need to hold a lead at the end of a game.

A perfect comparison I have seen for Lundell is Mikko Koivu. A career 50-60-point scorer, who’s a defensive-minded, second-line center with first-line capabilities is exactly how Lundell should be projected. With that said, expect him to be off the board anywhere between picks nine and 12. 

Fit With the Devils

As has been mentioned in several draft pieces before, the Devils taking Lundell would set the team’s center position for years to come. He would take over as a “better Travis Zajac.” As for where the Devils can select Lundell, picks six and 10 would be the spots. 

Pick six is too early for him, however, he may be the best player available at ten. If any of the players ranked one through eight on my below rankings are available, that is who I would prefer the Devils to go with. However, if not, Lundell would be a great and safe selection with the Coyotes’ pick. 

Ranking of Evaluated Prospects

1. Alexis Lafrenière (no profile will be released)

2. Tim Stützle (05/07/2020)

3. Marco Rossi (04/30/2020)

4. Quinton Byfield (05/08/2020)

5. Jamie Drysdale (05/01/2020)

6. Lucas Raymond (04/28/2020)

7. Cole Perfetti (05/05/2020)

8. Alexander Holtz (04/29/2020)

9. Anton Lundell (Today)

10. Jake Sanderson (05/04/2020)

11. Yaroslav Askarov (05/05/2020)

12. Jack Quinn (05/09/2020) 

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